US tags Iran anew as top terror sponsor

Report says number of worldwide terrorist attacks dropped by 23% last year compared with 2016

Washington – Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, the Trump administration said Wednesday in an annual report that also highlighted another drop in terrorist attacks worldwide.

The State Department’s annual survey of global terrorism accused Iran of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran’s “terrorist affiliates and proxies,” the report said, “demonstrated a near-global terrorist reach.”

The number of worldwide terrorist attacks dropped by 23 percent last year compared with 2016, according to the report, a change largely due to gains against Daesh in Iraq. The number also had declined in 2016 over the previous year.

The report comes as the Trump administration is toughening its stance against Iran. President Donald Trump withdrew from the landmark nuclear accord with Iran earlier this year and has begun to dismantle sanctions relief granted under the 2015 deal.

Re-imposing sanctions is one part of a larger effort by the US to cut Iran off from funds used to support proxy forces and support other “malign activity” in the region, including terrorism, according to Trump administration officials.

“Iran uses terrorism as a tool of its state craft, it has no reservations about using that tool on any continent,” Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, told journalists Wednesday. He cited Iran-linked fundraising networks in West Africa, weapons caches in South America and operational activity in Europe.

The report specifically cited the activities of Iranian Gen. Qassem Sulaimani, the powerful Revolutionary Guard commander who also helped organise the Iraqi militias against Daesh.

Iran used the Revolutionary Guard “to provide support to terrorist organisations, provide cover for associated covert operations, and create instability in the Middle East,” the report stated.

Also in the Middle East, Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, emerged emboldened from the war in Syria with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere, according to the report.

The 23 per cent drop in worldwide terrorist attacks in 2017 was attributed mainly to fewer attacks in Iraq, where territory once held by Daesh was retaken by government forces. Deaths due to terrorist attacks also decreased by 27 percent last year.


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